The PPPM Roadmap Components: Direction

Project/Program Portfolio Management (PPPM)
By PH Lohnes, PMP

The direction component of a PPPM roadmap period is the heading that the organizational’s Senior Leadership Team (SLT) takes in order to implement the period’s objectives and therefore the goals of the PPPM vision. The linkage between a period’s objectives and goals is that the objectives are the how of the roadmap’s implementations while the goals are the what. Many people confuse goals and objectives and often use them in the same phrase with many believing that they are the same. Let’s look at an example to clarify their differences.

Using our current example, in the first PPPM roadmap period (Period A – first 6 months time frame) the goal maybe the measurable condition of improving financial budgeting to the point of meeting the defined budget point within +10%, and -15% range. Remember, goals are the horizon while objectives are the manner in which we achieve that condition of horizon. In this example, the goal of improving the financial budget targeting is supported by the objectives of process improvement, principal training, and performance tracking via newly implemented software applications. We will discuss this important topic in a later post.

So with the difference of goals and objectives in hand, what is the direction component? A direction with respect to a goal and objective is the overall direction in which the goal is to be obtained. For our example, to achieve the goal of improved financial budgeting practice, an organization could either do it internally with existing staff and processes, or by having an external contractor such as a Big Five Accounting Firm come on-board to implement our goal of improving our budgetary obtainment. How we move forward to our goal given our direction will alter the objectives, achievements, and implementations. All are interlinked — almost to a level of becoming a Gordian knot.

When advising my clients on these concepts, I use the following flow of actions:

First goals are defined for the period as they are part of the larger PPPM vision. From the goals the direction can be chosen for which the objectives, achievements, and finally the implementations quickly follow suit from the goals and direction. To keep this all organized and clear, you might want to use the analogy of a journey. The goal is condition of being in Vienna, Austria. The direction would be the choice of taking the Eurorail system as opposed to driving ourselves or having someone drive us. The objectives would how we use the Eurorail system to achieve our condition of being in Vienna. Do we travel during the day, or use the overnight trains and sleep on the train? Do we get off at stops for sightseeing, or do we have a timetable or schedule to keep? The achievements would be the obtainment of the desired outcomes of arriving in Vienna at a certain time at a certain place using the train system given our implementation constraints of time, budget, and even risk.

Hopefully this post will assist in understanding these components of each roadmap’s period, and what you will need to define for that period in order to implement the PPPM vision


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